Stepping back in time in Macon is easy with a trip to the new Tubman Museum of African American Art, History and Culture. The first reminder you see of Macon’s rich history and contribution to the arts is as you cross the “Otis Redding Bridge.” The rusty steel girders remind the driver of the segregated South as you pull into historic downtown Macon. The city has retained many old brick buildings that give you a glimpse of the architecture of the Jim Crow South. One hard reminder is the Macon Bus station which still has the engraved granite sign “Colored Waiting Area.”
But in the midst of this history is a beautiful building that reflects in its architecture the roots of the African heritage of Macon’s Black citizens. That building is the Tubman Museum. Named in honor of Black heroine Harriett Tubman, it embodies her spirit of escaping to a better and brighter future and a reimagining of the spirit through its astounding collection of Black cultural exhibits, achievements and history. The brick work of the building reflects the distinctive style of Macon’s Black brick masons who built Macon’s buildings of the past. While the rich yellow ochre color has its origins in the soil of West Africa, like the red clay soil of Georgia this yellow clay called Edo is common. Samples of the African soil were brought to Macon by a board member and a custom paint was designed.
At the Tubman there is another reminder of the Jim Crow South, the “BACONSFIELD” granite ceremonial marker. This marker honors a park built specifically for White boys and girls and is now on the steps of the museum.
But then you walk into the rotunda of the building and immediately the close repression of the past begins to lift with this large beautiful open space. When inside the rotunda of the museum, if a visitor simply looks up, they will see the unique dome. It was built in a pattern similar to African basket weaving.
Lining the walls are four massive mixed media textile tapestries created by local artist Winnie McQueen. The pieces are meant to remind the viewer of Macon’s history and contribution to the fabric of Georgia.
The facility houses five featured exhibits; Harriett Tubman: The Moses of Her People; Black Artists of Georgia; The History of the Dream; From Africa to America; and From the Minds of African Americans.